O's to keep an eye on potential contributors as they make progress
SARASOTA, Fla. -- Hours before the Orioles took the field for their afternoon game against the Rays, a flat white piece of slab on a rehab mound was the backdrop for the best part of manager Buck Showalter's Wednesday.
"That's the highlight of the day," Showalter said from his perch inside a golf cart after watching Dylan Bundy and Johan Santana pitch off the flat mound. "Nothing else can get a whole lot better for both of them. It was a big day for Johan, too. He's already saying, 'I got to get the ball down.'"
Both Bundy (Tommy John) and Santana (two shoulder surgeries in 31 months) will spend a lot of time at the Ed Smith Stadium complex when the rest of the club heads north. But both pitchers could have a significant impact on the Orioles' fate this season, perhaps as early as June.
"Your first hope is that you don't need them, but you know that's probably not going to be the case," Showalter said. "It wasn't free with Johan. He had some options, different places he could go. I appreciate the support of ownership taking a chance on a guy like Johan."
Santana, signed to a one-year, incentive-heavy deal on March 4, threw 25 pitches and said the next step will be to get up on a half-mound, because he's gone off the flat ground several times. Wednesday marked Bundy's first time, and the Orioles' top pitching prospect is targeting March 31 for his first regular bullpen session.
"I'm trying to get back into what I love to do," Santana said of him and Bundy being with the Orioles at some point this season. "Dylan, he's got a great arm and he's going to be a good one. Definitely, as long as you have an opportunity to improve your team as you go is definitely a good situation to be in. I'm pretty sure if we're healthy and we're ready to help, that will be a good problem to have as a team. So, we'll see how it goes."
Santana's rehab will mainly be overseen by athletic trainer Chris Correnti, with Bundy working with Minor League medical coordinator Dave Walker. Bundy, who had been throwing long-toss sessions to vice president of baseball operations Brady Anderson, said just throwing to instructor Rudy Arias behind the plate was exciting.
"Very [exciting]. It was different even throwing on grass, like I have been doing to Brady," Bundy said. "That was still a little bit different, so it was fun."
Bundy said he's throwing around 80 percent, and his goal it to help the Major League club as soon as possible.
"Any way I can help, I'll be happy to do it," Bundy said.